We are getting down to the last few games of the season. What is in store for the top seeds, the Hawks and Warriors, and who should they be concerned with? Find out what the panel think and much more this week.
Here are this weeks questions.
The Spurs entering Monday have won 13 out of the last 16 games, and have had huge victories over the Thunder and Grizzlies, both likely playoff teams. Are the Spurs serious contenders to possibly repeat this season, and can they keep up with a team like the Warriors?
Steve: You can never ever ever ever ever count out the San Antonio Spurs. Just when you think they are too old, and dead in the water, they go off and destroy the Thunder by 39 points, and then they have their way with the Memphis Grizzlies. So I give them a very good shot to repeat as champions. The Warriors are younger, quicker, and probably more talented, but the Spurs have so much experience in the post season, and Pops may have something up his sleeve. Kerr has been a good coach and has learned from the best in Phil Jackson, but until he gets his team on the court in the playoffs, it is an entirely new ball game.
David: Is Duncan alive? If Yes, then there is your answer. Duncan and Pops can make any team dangerous. Lets not get it twisted, Pops could care less if they go into the playoffs at 60-22 or 41-41 as long as his older cast is 100% healthy and his rotation is down. Can they play with the Warriors? Let me count the Rings that the starting 5 have over there. I think they can compete, and if the Warriors are not careful, the Spurs will do to them what a previous generation of S Warriors did to another team i from Texas.
Bill: The Spurs, even as old as they are, have far too much savvy and experience to be ruled out no matter who they might end up playing. They know exactly what it takes to win in the playoffs as well as how to maximize their particular strengths. I made a bold prediction before the season began that this would be the season that the Spurs finally end up missing out on the playoffs with Father Time finally catching up to them. Clearly I was wrong in my prediction; however, the Spurs aren’t as top notch as they used to be but are still as strong as ever. It’s a testament to how utterly deep the Western Conference is when the defending league champion is a SIXTH seed.
Chad: The Spurs have won 5 titles under Gregg Poppovich and have been a constant force in the playoffs since his arrival. I can not conceive of counting them out until somebody actually beats them in a best of 7 in these NBA playoffs.
Last week we asked who takes the 8th spot in the West. So this week we will ask, Who takes the 8th spot in the East? The contenders are The Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and Charlotte Hornets and they are all separated by just 1 game for the 8th spot. Who takes it?
Steve: Brooklyn has a tough schedule remaining as they still have to play the top teams in the East, including the Hawks twice. I don’t see them winning more than 3 out of there final 9 games. Same with the Hornets, they just give up too many points, and they have Atlanta, Houston, and Toronto twice. The Boston Celtics have to face the Cavs twice, the Raptors twice, and the Bucks twice, all playoff teams. The Indiana Pacers’ have the most favorable schedule of the four teams as their final nine games features just three games where the opponent is over .500, so they have a favorable schedule, plus they have Boston and Charlotte in there so they can help play their own hand. I say the Pacers take the 8th spot.
David: The Celtics are playing hard, and unlike some other teams, have something to play for. . I’m a Hornets fan, but I think the front office misfired with Lance. I know shocking. I didn’t like it at the time, if you remember.
The Celtics are hungry and more than willing to go all out for Brad Stevens.
Bill: *If* Paul George comes back and is able to really contribute close to the fashion that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him play, my nod will go to IND. If he doesn’t make it back, it’s all going to depend upon who has the hardest remaining schedule left to go. Over the next two nights (31 MAR/01 APR), the Pacers play BKN and BOS. To cement their chances at making it, they need to win both. IND only has three games remaining against teams with a .500 record or better, whereas BOS and BKN are sitting at 4 and 6 respectively. If IND can’t finish up and win out, I’d go with BOS squeaking into the last spot.
Chad: My pick for the eastern conference 8th spot would be the Brooklyn Nets as the front runner for the 8th spot being in the spot now and having the most parts on their side in a an attempt to get the 8th spot
As the Hawks and Warriors have locked up the #1 seed in their respective Conferences, which team would you be concerned with the most for these two teams?
Steve: If I am the Hawks, I am very concerned about two teams to face. You need to hope that the Heat get the 7th seed, because if Dwayne Wade heats up, then they are going to be a tough out for the upper seed in the first round. Right now that belongs to the Cavs, which is also the other team that the Hawks need to worry about. On paper, the Cavs are the best team in the East, and when they click well together they are very tough to beat.
If I am the Warriors, I am worried about every team in the West because they are all so talented. I am not too concerned with a first round meeting with the Thunder as I was a few weeks ago as Durant is out. But then you get to teams like the Rockets, Spurs, Grizzlies, Clippers, Blazers, and even the Mavericks who have the talent to knock off a team like Golden State. I still think the West is the Warriors to lose, but they will be tested.
David: The Hawks have some dude named. I’d be worried about him at all times. Let me put it this way, if the four people on this roundtable, and pissed of LeBron came to town, I bet I’d average 15 boards a game- of course he’s kill me since I have no jumper, but still. The other Scary team is of cousrse the Bulls. Noah is no LeBron, but he has a better coach. Swap Noah for Love and tTibbs, and LeBron might be looking more at Jordans 72-10 more than the second seed.
As the the Warriors, they have 2 problems, Big Time Playoff Basketball- meaning they get to see what its like deep in the second season, while the Grizz, Spurs and most others have been there for the better part of a decade, then, to me, it all comes down to Bogut.
Bill: GS is going to have a pretty rough go of it from the jump with OKC. Yeah, GS is loaded to the gills with talent and OKC is missing Durant but, even still, OKC has plenty to rely upon in Westbrook, Kanter, et al. I can see this matchup going six games very easily as both teams can run and light it up at the drop of a hat. This series should be interesting and if OKC somehow manages to pull off an upset, it would be colossal on both sides: a HUGE momentum shift for them in the positive and an equally huge loss for GS seeing all they’ve done to this point.
Chad: For the Warriors right now I would be concerned with the Spurs getting hot at the right time and their history of being a threat for the playoffs. For the Hawks the team I would be most concerned with at this point is the Cavaliers with Lebron and Kyrie working together the Cavs become dangerous more than they were
Has Kevin Love been a bust so far in Cleveland?
Steve: Love has not performed up to his ability and that is mainly due to injury. I would not yet call him a bust for the Cavs, but if he does not rebound (no pun intended) and have a bounce back year next year, or even this year in the playoffs, then he could be considered a bust after next season.
David: MASSIVE bust.
I was going to put this in yesterdays Brain Droppings, but I’ll do it here.
How about they do a sign and trade with Oklahoma? Send Kevin Love to play with Westbrook for say . . .Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison? Might have to add Steve Novak for the cap room, but who says no to that deal?
Oklahoma has Kanter, Durant, Love, Waiters and Westbrook and the
Cavs can roll with Varejao/Thompson, Collison, James, Shumpert, Irving
Bill: No; however, it’s pretty clear he’s not as ideal a fit as they tried to make him out to be and for that I expect him to opt out and take his talents elsewhere. He’d be an outstanding fit on a team like PHX or LA. Given all the talk prior to his trade to CLE and coupled with the fact that he’s a Cali guy, it almost seems that a move out west is imminent. I’m not a huge fan of Love but respect his ability to score and rebound at a high rate. As a Suns fans, it would be awesome to see both him, Markieff Morris (shifting to SF), and Len patrolling the low block. I know there was a last gasp trade attempt by PHX to get him but there was no way it was going to happen. Seeing as he could be a free agent, why not go for it?
Chad: I wouldn’t consider him to be a bust just not being used how everyone anticipated that he would be used when getting traded; I think that trying to mush the talents of Lebron, Kyrie, and Love in one season be he still is contributing to the team success so I would not call in him a bust.
With the Minnesota Timberwolves competing for the #1 pick in the lottery, assuming they get the top pick, they would have the last two #1 picks in the draft. Can the Timberwolves bounce back, and what timetable, if any, would you give them?
Steve: Assuming they get the top pick and get Okafor from Duke, the Wolves are going to be talented, but these young guys are not going to be able to put the Wolves on the map by themselves. They are going to need star talent, and leadership. If all plays out that way, it will take at least five years for these guys to compete in the West, that is unless Minnesota goes on a buying spree and gets some top notch free agents before then.
David: It’s more important on what they DO with the pick. Having the top pick means little if the prize is Joe Smith, the Kandi-Man or someone like that. Its a different story if The Brow, Lebron or Duncan is the prize. I’m trying to remember when Kevin Love was picked- yet he gained the Wolves far more than just the number 1 overall pick. Durant and Westbrook, neither top picks.
Bill: I still see them at least a solid three years out. They’ve begun to really turn things around and have gathered quite the stable of young and emerging talent. While I’m all for seeing KG retire with the team that drafted him and where he had such a huge impact, giving him his fond farewell will likely hurt them and slow their progress. They traded away a solid, young talent in Thad Young for KG. Given time, Young could have really developed into a nice player in MIN but now they’ll only be able to watch him get it together on an opposing team. Wiggins, Pekovic, LaVine, and Muhammad are the core of their rebuilding efforts (along with some other developing talent), but they’re still too raw to be taken seriously given how deep and strong the upper echelon of teams are in the Western Conference.
Chad: I believe that the Timberwolves can eventually bounce back now depending on any FA success they might have may determine the time frame for a rebuild but I would imagine at least 2-3 years for situation like Minnesota’s
Tiny URL for this post: